Bibb County school board members voted 6-1 Thursday night to hire Curtis L. Jones as the new school superintendent, ending a protracted search.
Board member Tom Hudson cast the sole dissenting vote, and Ella Carter abstained.
Carter said she didn’t vote because she had issues with the search process. Hudson echoed Carter’s concerns and said, “I will support him, but I cannot vote in favor because I think the whole thing has been compromised.”
The district ultimately spent about $21,000 on two rounds of searches with the Georgia School Boards Association before settling on Jones.
Board member Daryl Morton said the community has been looking for the board to hire someone who will lead the school district to success.
“I don’t care how we got here, but he’s certainly the right choice,” Morton said.
Jones comes to Bibb County by way of Griffin-Spalding County, where he has served as superintendent since 2009.
Jones couldn’t be in Macon for the meeting, because he was attending the annual American Association of School Administrators conference in California.
“I am excited that the board voted for me to be their next superintendent,” Jones told The Telegraph by phone. “I am OK with the vote. My understanding is that it was more about the process and not me. Because of that, I feel as if I do have full support, and I am ready to continue on with the process and begin the transition to come to Bibb.”
The 59-year-old administrator graduated from Griffin High School in 1973, attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and then spent 20 years as an officer in the Army, retiring as a colonel.
He returned to Griffin High in 1997 to start his career in education as a JROTC instructor. Jones served as principal of the high school from 2001-05, was promoted to assistant superintendent for administrative services until his selection as superintendent of the Griffin-Spalding system.
Jones also one of four finalists for Georgia’s Superintendent of the Year, named in December, and he is president-elect of the Georgia School Superintendents Association.
Jones will be the Bibb’s seventh leader in the past five years. Since Superintendent Sharon Patterson resigned in 2010, Sylvia McGee, Romain Dallemand, Susanne Griffin-Ziebart, Steve Smith and Kelly Castlin-Gacutan have directed the school system. All but Dallemand were serving on an interim basis. The school board bought out Dallemand’s contract in February 2013 after a tumultuous two-year term.
Jones first applied for the job during Bibb’s first Georgia School Boards Association search in 2013, but he ultimately withdrew his name from consideration and did not apply during the second round.
School board members approached Jones earlier this month about the position and interviewed him in closed session Feb. 5 during a called board meeting.
Specific details about his new employment contract with Bibb schools were not available at Thursday’s meeting, and board members refused to provide any information regarding his salary or benefits.
His most recent salary, for the 2013-14 school year, was $162,000, according to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts.
During the 2013-14 school year, the Griffin-Spalding County school system had 10,626 students (46 percent white, 44 percent black and about 6 percent Hispanic).
About 76 percent of students qualified for free or reduced price lunch, according to the system’s website.
The system’s graduation rate jumped from 58.2 percent in 2011 to 63.88 percent in 2012, then to 66.63 percent in 2013.
Jones has a master’s degree in business administration from Albany State College, a specialist degree in educational leadership from Lincoln Memorial University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. He has completed the Army’s Command and General Staff School and previously held a certified financial planner designation.
To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382.